When Carma’s Café owner Carma Halterman first conceived of opening a bistro in Charles Village, the idea was to create a coffeehouse, a place where Johns Hopkins students and neighborhood residents could mix amid home-brewed coffees and Italian sodas. As an afterthought, Carma put together a food menu to keep the coffee drinkers happy: “We thought people might need something to eat while they drink their coffee,” she says.
The food, though, turned out to be the thing that brought people in and kept them there, especially the sandwiches. From a meaty, crusty New Orleans-style muffaletta stuffed with mortadella, hot capicollo, smoked mozzarella, and more, to the steaklike portobello mushroom sandwich, Carma’s offerings are sultry combos of homemade ingredients and flavor engineering. The bread, for example, is crusty, light, and delicious. The hummus sandwich is about as tasty and creamy as hummus gets, and the rich and hearty chicken salad is a pretty hefty meal for $6.50. Plus, all the above-mentioned offerings come with your choice of a side garden salad or a bowl of sesame noodles, enough to fill you up with or without the coffee.